Thursday, March 03, 2016

First Thoughts On Judge For Senate

The biggest thing you need to know about the Patty Judge for Senate buzz is the way it was rolled out in the New York Times.
With Senator Charles E. Grassley under attack for his handling of the Supreme Court nomination process, a formidable Democratic challenger will run against him this November, the most significant sign yet that Democrats see the court and the candidacy of Donald J. Trump as twin liabilities for Republicans.

Patty Judge, a former Iowa lieutenant governor and state agriculture secretary, is expected to announce her challenge this weekend to Mr. Grassley, who is seeking a seventh Senate term and had previously been seen as having little opposition to re-election...
Ouch, say the three people already running.

The New York Times is a signal to Donors and Serious National Players that Judge is the horse to get behind in what may be Iowa's first serious Democratic US Senate primary in a lifetime. And maybe the national folks figure: Farm Gal won it for the Republicans in 2014, maybe a generation older farm gal wins it for us in `16. (Alternate universe: Judge vs. Ernst in 2014...)

This is a very different late start than Roxanne Conlin's late start in 2009. True, the same two Some Dudes, Tom Fiegen and Bob Krause, are involved. But it's a LOT later. Fiegen and Rob Hogg have already filed (and that filing bar is high enough that Judge will have to move fast. The March 12 county conventions will help, but paid canvassers may be needed.)

And Rob Hogg is no Some Dude.  He's a serious legislator with substantial endorsements that include almost all of his Democratic legislative colleagues. Granted, there's some talk that his candidacy is more about holding the State Senate (where he serves and where his Cedar Rapids seat is NOT up for re-election) or about 2018, than it is about beating Grassley.

But then, Conlin's candidacy was at least in part about shoring up the ticket to help Chet Culver.

Now, however, it seems like with Justice Scalia's death, the race is actually about winning. And since the Democratic nomination is now a prize, rather than a duty, expect the primary to play out.

Looking at their backgrounds and reputations, I expect to see a environmentalist vs. agribusiness angle. Remember 2010, when CCI tried to challenge Judge's renomination at the state Democratic convention for being "too corporate"? Judge also drew opposition from the Greens in 2002... but she was also the last Democrat (and only woman ever) to win the Ag Secretary job; subsequent Democrats have been way too Organic Granola for rural voters.

You'll also see rural-urban, gender, and generational divides. Hogg will perform well in his eastern Iowa base.Worth noting: Johnson County always over performs in state Democratic primaries, because of high turnout for courthouse contests that are the de facto "real election." This year will see a hot supervisor race, and Hogg grew up here.

But Judge or Hogg would both be good additions to the November ballot, and even Bob Krause is a decent guy who's just in a little too deep. As long as we don't end up with charlatan Tom Fiegen, who's using his louder than anyone else Feel The Bern noisemaking to hide his lack of a real campaign of his own, to use the Sanders supporters, and to hide his not very progressive record (anti-choice, anyone?)

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